The Burmese government's decision to keep opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for another 18 months has drawn strong criticism from world leaders.
A Burmese court convicted the nobel peace laureate Tuesday for breaching the terms of her detention, following a bizarre incident involving an American citizen who swam uninvited to her lakeside home in May.
U.S. President Barack Obama said the conviction violates universal principles of human rights. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called the ruling "monstrous" and French President Nicolas Sarkozy said it was "unjust and unfair."
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's office released a statement Tuesday saying he "strongly deplores" the ruling by Burma's military rulers.
Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Wednesday offered his support to Suu Kyi, saying he was "deeply saddened" by her extended detention.
But China — a key ally and major military supplier of the junta — urged the international community to "fully respect Myanmar's judicial sovereignty", foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said.The Philippines accused Burma of seeking to prevent Aung San Suu Kyi from taking part in next year's election.
The ruling would prevent the 64-year old Burmese opposition leader from taking part in upcoming elections if she serves her full sentence.
The ruling was also criticized by Malaysia and Singapore -- like Burma, members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
A court in Rangoon's Insein prison initially sentenced Aung San Suu Kyi Tuesday to three years in prison with hard labor for allowing American, John Yettaw, to stay at her home in May while she was under house arrest.But, Burma's home affairs minister Maung Oo entered the court and said the country's leader, General Tan Shwe, had commuted the sentence to 18 months of house arrest.
Authorities later drove Aung San Suu Kyi back to her Rangoon home to serve her term. She had been detained at the prison during her trial. The Nobel peace prize laureate already has spent 14 of the past 20 years in detention, mostly under house arrest.
Two female associates of Aung San Suu Kyi who live with her at her lakeside villa also had their court-imposed sentences reduced to 18 months.
The Rangoon court sentenced Yettaw, the American, to seven years in prison with hard labor. He swam uninvited to Aung San Suu Kyi's home in May and stayed there for two nights, saying he had received a message from God to warn the opposition leader about what he called a terrorist plot to assassinate her.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.